Taking my place in the Pews

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘new’ Christians. People who’ve just decided to accept Jesus or maybe they haven’t accepted him yet but they are ‘trying on’ the Christian life. I have some good friends who have just begun attending church. In fact, they were previously pretty Anti-church. So now when they sit next to me, I’m keenly aware of all the nuances of the service. How church members relate to each other. The rituals and habits we have. It must seem so foreign to them! I remember when it was foreign to me. The churchy language, the small groups, full immersion baptism. Oh man , THAT one used to freak me out! (I worked hard on my hair and makeup and you want to ruin it? In public??) I’m also aware of the expectations that can sometimes accompany church membership.


One of the things I dearly want for my friends is not to confuse who they are to the church with who they are to God.

I  started attending church again regularly after a lengthy almost  two decades  hiatus during which I royally screwed up life (another many stories for another time) I was happy to be there but I felt like such an outsider. It was like being the new kid in middle school and all the other kids had been friends since they were in Kindergarten. Fortunately, the congregation was incredibly friendly and welcoming. Plus they served snacks after service. Bonus! They drew me into their tribe, their culture, their lives, their conversations. It was amazing! I couldn’t get enough. After 14 years in my  2nd abusive marriage (no judging) my self esteem was next to nothing and I didn’t feel like I had anything of value to offer other than my hairstyling skills. But these people-they seemed to love ME and that’s what I so desperately needed. So, in true over achiever fashion I jumped right in to everything they had to offer. And there was a lot!! I did women’s ministry. I did Bible studies. I attended conferences. I helped with and planned events, dinners, children’s ministry puppet shows. You name it, I said YES. Heck , I even went to Bible college and graduated Valedictorian! I drank ALL the Kool Aid! I was killing this Christian thing!! And for a while it felt awesome! I was accepted. I was praised. I was wanted. I was appreciated.


When I was at my lowest God knew what I needed and He generously supplied.However, while I was moving up in church leadership I began to realize that something was off. My church family seemed more interested in what I was producing rather than what I was becoming. I was a major player. One of the ‘special’ ones. I also felt tired, judged, confused, stretched thin, and vaguely empty.

I began to realize that I wasn’t doing all this for God. I was more concerned with what people would think of me if I Didn’t do #allthethings  all the time. Ashamedly,  I also realized that I was addicted to the accolades that I got from being ‘one of the chosen’ who sat at the front of the church. Or being one of the few that attended the inner circle meetings of church hierarchy. I’d become one of the cool kids and I liked it. It made me feel special. Somewhere along the line I’d gotten it wrong. I’d come back to church and to Jesus because he accepted and loved  ME.  Not because of Anything that I did. He loved me when I wasn’t doing anything ‘special’. I didn’t want to have to do all the right things to be accepted anymore. Jesus had only one qualification for me to follow him and that is that I am totally Unqualified.

My marriage(s)  had left me with the wound of ‘ never good enough’. Even though I thought I’d left that at the door, all I did was bring it with me and put a Sunday suit on it. I’d moved my hamster wheel of worthiness from home to church. I’d spent years and years trying to become whatever people wanted me to be so that I’d be valuable to them. Constantly trying to figure out what they wanted from me.

What I didn’t understand was that all God wanted from me was– Me.giphy (1).gif


Because God likes to mess with my comfort zones, He led us away from that particular church and all the activities I’d put in His place. He removed my protective Armor of Productivity and put me on a ‘Busyness Time Out’.  I no longer had my committees and bible studies and women’s groups to take up my time. In the absence of movement there was only me…..and God. And you know what I began to realize? I didn’t need all the busy work. Not once. Not one single time did I feel any less loved for not ‘producing’ . In fact, I felt peaceful and comforted and accepted again. As I spent my time with God and reading His word it slowly dawned on me that He just wants me to love Him. Trust Him. Love others. Be kind. It doesn’t matter if I do that for 300 people or just the guy bagging my groceries.  I don’t need to do something that looks Big and Amazing to people. To God the smallest gestures of love ARE big and amazing. He knows that my giving of love produces far more results than anything else.

So, if you want to find me at church don’t go looking where the volunteers are. That may come at another season of my life again; but not now. For now, you can find me sitting in the aisles next to my newbie church friends and just being with them.

Everything I Know about Fighting I Learned from my Son

If you fell down yesterday stand up todayIf you met me today, you would say that I was a fighter. A strong woman who won’t take sass from anyone. Such was not always the case. I suppose I have always been competitive. In fact, I’m Sure I’ve always been competitive both with myself and others. We may be friends, but if you play a card game with me the gloves come off! 😉 Fighting however is a different matter altogether.  Being sexually abused stunted my growth in so many ways.I didn’t get the chance to learn to fight small skirmishes and build my stamina over the years. I lost the first battle. A huge battle. And the scars went to the core. Instead of coming out of it with my fists raised to the sky I learned to contract into myself. Curl into a little roly poly until the danger passes. If fighting and losing was going to hurt that badly then why do it at all.

Then I had my son. There’s something about holding a tiny defenseless baby that smells like heaven.Instinct and love tell you that you must do whatever it takes to protect this child. That’s what ‘good’ parents do, right? What if you don’t know how to fight? What if the idea of it grips you with terror? If my son asked me how I learned to fight, I’d tell him this:

From the time I was pregnant I fought the nausea, the weight gain, the labor pains. When they let me take you home, I fought the panic that I had no idea what I was doing.

I warred against insecurity, ignorance, and impatience.

Croup, ear infections,and teething became my world and I fought for sleep.I wrestled to comfort you, quiet you, soothe you to no avail.In the morning I went to work and fought to stay awake.

I fought to maintain your home in the face of my divorce and when your father threatened to abduct you, I fought to hide you and keep you safe in my arms.

As a single mom I struggled to support us, to find time with you between jobs, to make sure you felt loved and not left.

School was hard for you and I campaigned for your education, to understand you, to support you.

They diagnosed you soon with ADD and then with Bipolar disorder and I rose up against dread. I battled to get appointments, good doctors, the right medications. I pushed against their assumptions of your bleak future and counter argued with hope.I devoured every piece of information on mental illness and armed myself with knowledge.

As you slept at night and I sat by your bed and cried. I fought the fear that I could never be worthy of being the parent you needed. I cried out to God for the strength to be your champion.

I waged war with  broken school systems and burned out teachers. I stood strong during IEP meetings and counseling sessions. I became the parent who wouldn’t take back down because of bureaucracy.

I fought bad influences and bullies. Internet filth and video game overload.

In the most challenging combat I put myself as a barrier between you and your stepfather’s cruelty. Some battles I won, but too many were lost.  Paralyzing fear attempted to keep me down but with each encounter I slowly learned to stand for us.

I endeavored  to discipline you, teach you , love you, protect you. Sometimes; many times; from yourself.

I fought my own demons and dark.

I went to war on my knees in fervent prayer. Over and over and over.

I fought against you. You fought against me. And sometimes, we fought together.

When you became my prodigal son I fought to teach you responsibility, accountability, consequences. I fought to be a good parent (whatever that is)

You pulled away and I fought to be part of your world, to let you go without losing you, to accept your differences, and to make you know that my love was eternal.

Fighting for you gave me strength. Praying for you deepened my faith. With every blow I landed for you another one of my own demons went down and I found my armor, piece by piece. My son, I know I gave you life, but you gave me back mine.